Royal Rumble 2021: Keith Lee Forces Change to WWE Plan Due to COVID-19 Protocols

News surfaced on Saturday that WWE star Mia Yim tested positive for COVID-19 after several previous negatives. She will miss Sunday's Royal Rumble, as will her partner Keith Lee. Having the big man miss time creates extra issues due to "big plans" during the primetime event.

The exact plans remain unknown, but Billi Bhatti and former WWE writer Vince Russo discussed the disruption during an episode of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Show. They talked about how Lee would likely miss Royal Rumble even if he tested negative and did not display symptoms, as well as how he was set to "make a run" during the wrestling event. At the time of the podcast, the two men did not know which person had tested positive, but Yim later broke the news.

"I still don't know at this point which one of them does have it but I do know there is COVID in that household and I know that one of them has it bad," Bhatti said, as transcribed by Wrestling-Edge. "Otherwise they would have been back Monday." He continued and explained that having Lee miss time due to coronavirus in the household throws a wrench into WWE's plans.

"So, they are gonna be 'touch and go' for the Royal Rumble," he said. "Keith Lee is a bigger disappointment because they had bigger plans for him and to have a run in there. Mia Yim, not so much because there is still heat on her for her not making an effort to put her mask back on [during a segment]."

Prior to Lee's absence and reports of big plans, news surfaced that some people wanted Lee to win the Royal Rumble. However, WWE and Vince McMahon reportedly turned down this possibility. A source provided context about the decision to SportsKeeda and said that Lee might not "be ready" to win the main event.

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"WWE was strongly considering Keith Lee winning it [Royal Rumble] due to his popularity with WWE fans, but Vince McMahon threw the wrench into that idea," the source explained. "His input has been kind of shaded by underlings lately due to his age, but his thoughts on Lee make sense. Lee would be exposed as not being ready for the main roster, especially if he started early. Starting much later in the Rumble would confirm he wasn't ready."

With Lee out of the running due to both McMahon and coronavirus, there are questions about who will win the main event. One option is Big E. The former New Day member is a "favorite" entering Sunday night due to his popularity among fans, as well as McMahon "liking him."